It is quarter to seven in the morning and -42 degrees outside, I have Udaipur on my left, partially digested patties in my tummy, heck of a lot of caffeine running in my arteries, Simply Red’s Mike Hucknell crooning “Stay” in my ears and drowning out the guttaral snoring emitted by the sleeping man in the seat next to me – and I am feeling wiredcontentwoozycoldsweatyexciteddejectedfreakyhappysad. Welcome to my life on an early morning flight to the capital. For a change this flight is running ahead of schedule – making a beeline for the Delhi skies trying to get ahead in the landing sequence queue.

It is tough being an airline these days. Especially if you are a low cost airline – like the one I am travelling in today – when you have to somehow “justify” the low cost title while the primary costs remain the same. They should be called low margin airlines instead. The cabin crew still needs to be presentable, be able to speak English and have the basic IQ not to open the escape hatch in mid-air – which in itself opens lots of other career options for them. Hence, they can’t be paid lesser than their compatriots in “Full Service” (or high margin) airlines. (Meanwhile Simply Red has given way to the absolutely delightful “Tu bole Main boloon” from A.R.Rahman’s “Jaane Tu Ya Na Jaane” soundtrack.) The airline still has to invest in the maintenance and engineering staff on the ground – and really, they cannot cut corners with the cockpit-crew either. Just because we pay less – it doesn’t mean we deserve to be flown by unshaven pilots with prior experience in flying crop-dusters or flushing out forest fires in Oregon. And the Aircraft itself has to be fully equipped – no doing away with seats or even seat belts, nor will low-cost (read low income) flyers accept a wing less or do without those buttons on top which are used to summon the crew, when lonely.

Thankfully most Indians also cannot do without food – so the poor airlines try to minimize their losses by “catering to the masses”. The above mentioned patties and a tea cost me 80 bucks – sky high prices one would say. (Megadeth has started thrashing out “Sleepwalker”, the heaviest track I have heard in mainstream metal since a decade. Metal still rulez!!) So I gave a hundred rupee note to pay for my wares – and she told me she will return the change back later. Patties and tea are safely in my stomach – we are flying over Jaipur (I guess), I can sense a change in altitude, but my 20 bucks are not back yet. Maybe this is the latest ploy by desperate airlines to avoid going under. “Lets not return the change – no one will be cheap enough to ask… well if they are, we can always ask them to collect it from the ground staff. Now who in their right minds would ever go to such lengths?” Best Airline Company Boardroom idea of the Year. The Your-change-lines-our-pockets strategy. Remember, how in Jet Airways, towards the end of a flight, the sucker-of-the-day walks down the aisle with a blue donation box, (I am sure the crew draws straws for this) asking passengers to contribute to “Jet Airways Save-the-Children” fund? Maybe, the poor low margin airlines need to do the same – “Go Air – save my ass fund”. “Please contribute to our cause or else next time NO TOILETS! Or worse WE WON’T LAND!”

Ah…the delectable Hootie and the Blowfish are strumming out “Only wanna be with you…” – did you know that Tiger Woods had them playing LIVE at his wedding-with-the-swedish-nanny? And while I figure out what to write next – “Ranjan” from the Go Air staff just returned my 20 bucks. Guess being a Parsi-run airline – they have to be honest. Good for them…had half a mind to tell them to keep it. Oooh…passing through cloud…see flashes of white…keeping laptop from flying in air…patties don’t wanna stay in tummy anymore…I am sure soon these guys will introduce a “Turbulence Surcharge” along with a “Puke Cleaning” component. Jeez what a state my blog has come to…puke jokes. Yuck.

I shall stop now as apparently we are about to land after doing a full recce of the airspace around Delhi. Hope I was not too cruel to an already suffering lot. One is such an easy target when one is flying low…

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